Treatment for melanoma skin cancer depends on how early it is detected.
Surgery is usually able to treat most skin cancers. 1 This involves removal of the skin cancer, as well as a margin around it. If the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, they will also need to be removed which is known as a lymphadenectomy. 2
For advanced melanoma that has spread to the lymph nodes or other organs or bone, treatments include:
- Immunotherapy – stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy – uses radiation to help destroy cancer cells. This type of treatment may be used after surgery if cancer cells are still present or if skin cancers occur in areas that are difficult to treat with surgery.
- Targeted therapy – this uses special drugs to target only the cancer cells (whilst leaving healthy cells intact). This type of treatment is often used in patients where the melanoma has spread, or who have had a recurrence (cancer that has come back). 2
Treatment of non-melanoma skin cancer also depends on the size of the cancer and where it is located. If a skin cancer is suspected, your doctor may conduct a biopsy, otherwise surgery under local anaesthetic is the most common form of treatment. 1
In certain instances, primary radiotherapy may be used for skin cancers.